Fatwa: # 18361
Category: Misc. Fiqh
Country: South Africa
Date: 4th November 2009

Title

Could you please explain briefly why gambling is not permitted in Islam.

Question

Could you please explain briefly why gambling is not permitted in Islam.

Answer

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful


Assalaamu `alaykum waRahmatullahi Wabarakatuh

 

Allah Ta’ala says,

 

يسألونك عن الخمر والميسر قل فيهما إثم كبير ومنافع للناس وإثمهمآ أكبر من نفعهما

 

"They ask thee concerning wine and gambling. Say, 'In them there is great sin and some benefit for men; but the sin is greater than the benefit." (Al-Baqarah, 219)

The reason for the prohibition of gambling is clearly understood from the following verse,

 

يا أيها الذين آمنوا إنما الخمر والميسر والأنصاب والأزلام رجس من عمل الشيطان فاجتنبوه لعلكم تفلحون (90) إنما يريد الشيطان أن يوقع بينكم العداوة والبغضاء في الخمر والميسر ويصدكم عن ذكر الله وعن الصلاة فهل أنتم منتهون (91)

 

“O you who believe, intoxicants, and gambling, and the altars of idols, and the games of chance are abominations of the devil; avoid them so that you may attain succees. The devil desires only to create enmity and hatred among you by means of intoxicants and games of chance, and to keep you back from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. Will you then keep back?(Al-Ma’idah, 90, 91)

 

Hatred and hostility is harvested between two individuals when one takes possession of somebody else's property without any valid reason, due to which, the latter gets poorer and the former, without any effort becomes wealthier.

In anticipation of winning a person loses his initiative to work hard. However, when he loses he goes into debt gets into severe financial problems for him and his family. It is perhaps for this reason that many gamblers become so frustrated that they ultimately commit suicide.

Furthermore, the temperament of Islam is to bolt all pathways which lead to some evil. It has been proven that gambling often leads to physical and mental ill-health, family breakdown, the neglect and abuse of children, financial ruin, crime and associated incarceration, and in some cases self-harm and suicide. Over 60 percent of compulsive gamblers commit crimes of which include tax evasion, check forgery, stealing credit cards, fraudulent loan applications, insurance fraud, theft, embezzlement, fencing stolen goods, bookmaking, arson, and even armed robbery. A Delaware study reported that 86 percent of compulsive gamblers commit felonies. The American Insurance Institute estimates that as much as 40 percent of U.S. white collar crime comes from compulsive gamblers.

Gambling addicts usually experience decreased productivity in their businesses as they often daydream about gambling or use the Internet to gamble. Some 14 percent of compulsive gamblers skip entire work days to gamble. They are more likely to ask employers for pay advances, borrow money from fellow employees, steal from work, and embezzle.  It is for this reason that statistics prove that about 36 percent of compulsive gamblers lose their jobs because of their addictions.

In the aspiration of ‘winning’, the amounts lost through gambling are indeed alarming. Statistics have shown that every day New Zealanders lose $5.5 million on gambling. That is around $2 billion each year. Half of this, around $1 billion, is lost on pokie machines. According to Monash University “Australians spend (or, it might be said) lose around $18 billion a year, most of it on poker machines (also known as electronic gambling machines, or EGMs).” According to Dr Rodger Meyer, medical director of the National Responsible Gambling Programme (NRGP), some gamblers might "spend three days and nights, invariably losing everything in the end…” (1 August 2007, Daily News)

Total absorption in recovering losses made on previous bets (of any form) often lead to depression, strained family relationships and becomes an impediment to ones daily chores. The addiction often comes with a recognizable cycle of withdrawal, moodiness, obsession, dishonesty, guilt and despair. In short, gambling also takes its toll on an addict's emotional, physical, and spiritual health.

Extreme cases of problem gambling may cross over into the realm of mental disorders. It is precisely for this reason that Pathological gambling was recognized as a psychiatric disorder in the DSM-III. As defined by American Psychiatric Association, pathological gambling is an impulse control disorder that is a chronic and progressive mental illness.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Problem_gambling)

This is further corroborated by the national survey data from New Zealand which found that expenditure on gambling was disproportionately higher among people with lower levels of education, people with "lower status occupations," Maori, and Pacific peoples.

Besides the harm that one brings on himself through gambling, he also becomes a burden on others. The 2006/07 New Zealand Health Survey reports that almost 3% of adults (87,000) had experienced problems due to someone’s gambling in the previous 12 months.

Moreover, through gambling a person bases his economic activity on chance rather than his own technical capabilities. This leads to cowardice and superstition. 

From the aforementioned, we can clearly see how destructive gambling is. For easier understanding, we hereby present some of the harms of gambling in a table format:

 

Religious Harms

·         Directly disobeying the emphatic command of Allah Ta’ala.

·         Neglecting of prayers.

·         Becoming unmindful of the remembrance of Allah Ta’ala

·         Loosing trust in Allah Ta’ala. 

 

Financial harms

·         Debts.

·         Borrowing from family and friends.

·         Giving personal and family valuables as mortgage.

·         Writing bad checks.

·         Eviction and forced to sell personal items.

·         Bankruptcy.

 

Family harms

·         A gambler will give less time to his family members

·         Families usually have more arguments over money and get hounded by bill collectors.

·         Problem gamblers might miss family activities, including meals and other important events.

·         "Casino kids" sometimes are left in cars at gambling venues while a parent bets.

·         Addicts are more likely to abuse spouses and children—verbally, mentally, and physically.

·         Children of gambling addicts typically have lower grades, higher substance abuse rates, and more frequent suicide attempts.

·         Half of all children of gambling addicts will become gambling addicts themselves.

·         Problem gamblers are more likely to become separated or divorced.

Health harms

·         Self-esteem declines as losses increase.

·         Problem gamblers suffer more from stress, anxiety, moodiness, attention deficit hyperactivity, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and manic and clinical depression.

·         They are at increased risk of experiencing blackouts and emotional breakdowns.

·         Some physical problems include muscular tension, fatigue, stomach ailments, insomnia, ulcers, colitis, high blood pressure, heart disease, migraines, and skin problems.

·         Compulsive gamblers are likely to turn to alcohol, cigarettes, or other drugs to cope with anxiety or depression.

·         About 80 percent of compulsive gamblers seriously consider suicide and 15 percent attempt it.

New Zealand, for example, has adopted a public health approach, and legislation provides for an integrated problem gambling strategy focused on public health (Gambling Act 2003, Part 4, s.317) that is funded by a levy paid by gambling operators to the Crown.

The Ministry of Health is responsible, under the Act, for the prevention and treatment of problem gambling. Their approach is outlined in a six-year strategic plan – (Preventing and Minimising Gambling Harm: Strategic Plan 2004-2010.)

In view of all the above, how true is the following verse:

يسألونك عن الخمر والميسر قل فيهما إثم كبير ومنافع للناس وإثمهمآ أكبر من نفعهما

 

"They ask thee concerning wine and gambling. Say, 'In them there is great sin and some benefit for men; but the sin is greater than the benefit." (Al-Baqarah, 219)

And Allah knows best

Wassalaamu `alaykum

Ml. Ismail Moosa,
Student Darul Iftaa

Checked and Approved by:

Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Darul Iftaa

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